Finding Ways to Cope with the Pain

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - Following last week's deadly blast at the Imperial Sugar refinery, members of the First Baptist Church of Port Wentworth are sticking together through this tragedy, finding their strength in each other.

Wednesday night during their church service, they sang songs of hope and searched the Bible for any words that could answer the questions: Why?  Why here? Why now? Why them?

They're desperately trying to cope with the hand that has been dealt to this once-quiet community. Members described what they were feeling as hard, sad, and just a slow process.

They're trying to overcome something they never saw coming.  "As bad as it sounds, it really was a mini 9/11 for Port Wentworth, "said church member Emily Shuman. "You don't ever think of anything happening in such a small community, but it did and it's very, very difficult."

To get through this tragedy, they pray.

"Father, I pray you give them the peace and understanding that they're not alone, bless over our community tonight," prayed Pastor Sam Self.

Pastor Self is also counseling a number of Imperial Sugar employees who were inside the plant at the time of the explosion. He said the one thing he's seeing over and over again is the guilt those who survived are feeling.

"Those who got out are glad they got out, but they're feeling guilty that they're feeling glad," said Self.

Pastor Self said it will take time to work through this, just like it's going to take time for this community to work through what's yet to come.

"I know the initial shock is huge," said church member Jill Mock. "But as these weeks go on, it continues to get harder in other ways as the true shock, the reality of it, settles in."

Pastor Self agrees. He says he sees the community healing, but knows that once the funerals start, people will be right back to where they were a few days ago.

Reported by: Christy Hutchings,